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Going back to C8 fork

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#1 Tom Stock

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 12:35 AM

I de-forked my orange C8 (onto an AVX) years ago.  Yeah it was great! More solid, go-to, easier to balance with cameras, heavy eyepieces, great for imaging, etc. No way was I going back to a wedge and a fork!

 

But, fast forward.  I've found it sort of boring.  I don't image anymore, and there is no joy in finding a target.  I hate standing around waiting for it to grind on to the next target.  The eyepiece is all over the place, forcing me to practically sit on the ground sometimes, crane my neck and constantly rotate the diagonal.  Sometimes (like tonight) it just acts up and every go-to is off by half a degree.  Resets, re-alignments, nothing seems to solve it.  You suddenly feel at the mercy of a stupid computer who has it wrong. Tonight every alignment star it picked was below the horizon! ****?  Triple checked location, date, time, year, and DST.  I had to manually pick all alignment stars.  Slewing slowly with the hand controller to get every target into the FOV because gotos are still off after a 4 star alignment really sucks. Forget panning around the sky looking for something, it's painful.  I enter RA and DEC to find my variable and it's a degree off.  It's dropped me into a small field I can't match up with my charts, and slewing with the hand controller is awkward.  I wish I could just PUSH the scope around quickly to match my charts to the FOV but nope.  Sometimes it drops me right on the variable other times it makes the entire process more difficult than just star hopping.

 

After years of this I finally found myself longing for the simplicity of the original fork. Push it around freely.  Use setting circles to find targets.  Yeah I'll miss the stability of the GEM but I won't miss the headache and setup time (30 minutes). Purchased a replacement fork and a wedge. Will set up a permanent pier in the yard.  Primary interest is AAVSO variable observing so plopping it down on a pre-aligned wedge and getting to work, pushing from variable to variable sounds fantastic and productive. Nothing but the faint buzz of the synchro motors. No 4 star alignment process, noisy slews, bad alignments, batteries, tripod, counterweights, hand controllers, cables, or data entry. Just bolt it down and turn it on.  The large RA setting circle will get me close enough.

 

Just wondered how many of you have gone full circle like this. Feels sort of liberating.


Edited by Tom Stock, 17 January 2021 - 01:15 AM.

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#2 jgraham

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 09:53 AM

Heh, heh, yes, many times! I have deforked and reforked several SCTs for exactly the same reason. I now have 3 broad sets of scopes; manual visual, GoTo/manual visual, and imaging. All of my ‘classics’ have been put back onto their original mounts, but they do have at least a right angle finder. I am blessed to have options, and sometimes I just want a quiet evening at the eyepiece, and my ol’ manual scopes are perfect for that.

 

Enjoy!


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#3 Rick-T137

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 09:57 AM

Yes, I have a Meade 2080 LX6 Premier that I deforked and put it onto a motorized EQ5 mount. I ran it like that for quite a while and had many of the same placement frustrations you did. I wound up putting it back on the forks and using the wedge and I've been much happier ever since. Now, using a drum stool, I am totally comfortable. And I love the simplicity of the forks. I don't even use the hand controller - I do everything manually and the only "electronic" part I'm using is the RA motor to keep things centered.

 

Many years ago, my scope was a Meade 2120 LX6 Premier which I had also deforked and put onto an LXD-75 GOTO mount. Again - I faced many of the frustrations you did using the GOTO and wound up selling the whole thing and replacing it with a 4" APO on an EQ5 mount (the same EQ5 I later used with the 8" SCT).

 

Bottom line: I've had a few GOTO scopes and have decided they aren't for me. I much prefer the peace and quiet and surfing the stars on my own.

 

Clear skies!

Rick


Edited by Rick-T137, 17 January 2021 - 09:58 AM.

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#4 Bomber Bob

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 10:13 AM

I have ZERO interest in Go-To tech, and y'all have presented some of the Why's for my opinion.  I've got all my scope rig set-ups to 5 minutes or less, and that is pure, simple, contentment. 

 

I've loved those moments when you find an elusive target and can say, "Gotcha!".

 

Yes!  It's like you're the first human being to see that sight.  The Wonder Of Discovery is a biggy for me in our hobby.


Edited by Bomber Bob, 17 January 2021 - 10:33 AM.

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#5 BlueMoon

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 10:22 AM

No interest in goto myself either. To me, the "hunt" has always been an integral part of this hobby. I've loved those moments when you find an elusive target and can say, "Gotcha!".

 

I de-forked my C8 intending to put a Vixen dovetail on it for use on a CG-4 GEM in manual mode. Instead, I'm re-engineering the original fork mount mount to be smoother to operate and using it in alt/az without the wedge.

 

Clear skies and be well.


Edited by BlueMoon, 17 January 2021 - 10:33 AM.

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#6 B 26354

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 11:05 AM

I've had my C8 since '77. Within four years of getting it, I'd completed two Messier Marathons. Motors died about fifteen years ago, and about a year later, someone stole its tripod. But thankfully, the wedge wasn't on the tripod... so my trusty orange-tube became a rather large equatorial "table-top" scope.  lol.gif

 

About five years ago, I started looking into AP, and ended up with a couple of refractors and an iOptron CEM25P. Love the CEM25P... but hate using "GoTo". Nonetheless, I did a bit of visual with the 4-inch refractor on the 25P, and was reminded how nice it is to have an object remain centered in the FOV. Never managed to find replacement motors for the C8's fork... so two years ago I put it on a manual-only Orion SkyView Pro EQ, and after determining that the SkyView really was solid enough to handle the C8, I added the battery-powered drive-motor kit to it.

 

I do all of my observing and AP from my driveway, and I keep the SkyView fully set up in a side-porch -- legs already spread and locked -- so all I have to do is carry it outside, set the tripod tips on painted marks on the driveway, attach the counterweights and the C8... and I'm up and running. Takes five minutes.

 

Do I miss the setup and operation of the old tripod-and-wedge and fork-mount? Nostalgically... yes. But the ability to physically position the C8 with the non-GoTo SkyView mount by just releasing the clutches -- coupled with the ability to use both its manual slow-motion knobs and its battery-operated drive motors -- pretty much duplicates the old setup's functionality and ease of setup... so I'm content.  biggrin.png


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#7 davidmcgo

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 11:12 AM

I love a polar aligned fork mounted SCT!  My fork mounted Celestrons (5,8,10) are the most comfortable scopes to use.  I have the potable pier for the C10 which I also use with the 5 and the 8 and the forks on all these are short enough that the eyepiece and finder are not moving around a lot and a normal patio chair is all I need.  I have right angle finders on each which makes a big difference.

 

I set the tilt of the wedge with an inclinometer with the pier in observing location and the azimuth with a Suunto compass that I find a lot more accurate and reliable than a phone app or my old Silva hiker.  Setting circles then are good enough for stuff to be in the scope with the 5 and within the finder at least on the others (due to their much longer focal length).

My friend’s C11 gets awkward, the forks on it are longer so it is difficult to reach the slow motions and clamps while holding the diagonal and I definitely need a taller adjustable chair for it.

 

One other note, if you do the polar alignment routine where you roughly point, set RA circle to a known star and then dial in Polaris coordinates to adjust alt and az of the mount, Polaris RA has changed noticeably even since 2000 epoch.  So use an app to get those.

 

Dave


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#8 RichA

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 12:00 PM

I de-forked my orange C8 (onto an AVX) years ago.  Yeah it was great! More solid, go-to, easier to balance with cameras, heavy eyepieces, great for imaging, etc. No way was I going back to a wedge and a fork!

 

But, fast forward.  I've found it sort of boring.  I don't image anymore, and there is no joy in finding a target.  I hate standing around waiting for it to grind on to the next target.  The eyepiece is all over the place, forcing me to practically sit on the ground sometimes, crane my neck and constantly rotate the diagonal.  Sometimes (like tonight) it just acts up and every go-to is off by half a degree.  Resets, re-alignments, nothing seems to solve it.  You suddenly feel at the mercy of a stupid computer who has it wrong. Tonight every alignment star it picked was below the horizon! ****?  Triple checked location, date, time, year, and DST.  I had to manually pick all alignment stars.  Slewing slowly with the hand controller to get every target into the FOV because gotos are still off after a 4 star alignment really sucks. Forget panning around the sky looking for something, it's painful.  I enter RA and DEC to find my variable and it's a degree off.  It's dropped me into a small field I can't match up with my charts, and slewing with the hand controller is awkward.  I wish I could just PUSH the scope around quickly to match my charts to the FOV but nope.  Sometimes it drops me right on the variable other times it makes the entire process more difficult than just star hopping.

 

After years of this I finally found myself longing for the simplicity of the original fork. Push it around freely.  Use setting circles to find targets.  Yeah I'll miss the stability of the GEM but I won't miss the headache and setup time (30 minutes). Purchased a replacement fork and a wedge. Will set up a permanent pier in the yard.  Primary interest is AAVSO variable observing so plopping it down on a pre-aligned wedge and getting to work, pushing from variable to variable sounds fantastic and productive. Nothing but the faint buzz of the synchro motors. No 4 star alignment process, noisy slews, bad alignments, batteries, tripod, counterweights, hand controllers, cables, or data entry. Just bolt it down and turn it on.  The large RA setting circle will get me close enough.

 

Just wondered how many of you have gone full circle like this. Feels sort of liberating.

For versatility, they'll never improve on the fork mount.  The trick is to make the base as rigid as possible to make it as stable as a GEM can be.  For an 8 inch SCT, the forks it came with (whatever model) are good enough, but the larger ones, in equatorial mode can be improved.  One way to do it is to use the polar axis of a good GEM mount and to mount the forks to it.  I did this to an old C11, mounted its forks to the polar set-up of a vintage GEM with a 2" solid steel shaft.


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#9 brentknight

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 12:13 PM

I just acquired a Super C8 Plus on a wedge.  I'm learning to use it and it's a beautiful telescope for sure.  I hear you all raving about how comfortable these fork/wedge SCT's are, but I'm not feeling that when trying to look at objects to the north.  I find myself with my head between the forks and the poor telescope pointed behind me.  Anything in Cassiopeia comes to mind...



#10 Terra Nova

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 12:42 PM

I de-forked my orange C8 (onto an AVX) years ago.  Yeah it was great! More solid, go-to, easier to balance with cameras, heavy eyepieces, great for imaging, etc. No way was I going back to a wedge and a fork!

 

But, fast forward.  I've found it sort of boring.  I don't image anymore, and there is no joy in finding a target.  I hate standing around waiting for it to grind on to the next target.  The eyepiece is all over the place, forcing me to practically sit on the ground sometimes, crane my neck and constantly rotate the diagonal.  Sometimes (like tonight) it just acts up and every go-to is off by half a degree.  Resets, re-alignments, nothing seems to solve it.  You suddenly feel at the mercy of a stupid computer who has it wrong. Tonight every alignment star it picked was below the horizon! ****?  Triple checked location, date, time, year, and DST.  I had to manually pick all alignment stars.  Slewing slowly with the hand controller to get every target into the FOV because gotos are still off after a 4 star alignment really sucks. Forget panning around the sky looking for something, it's painful.  I enter RA and DEC to find my variable and it's a degree off.  It's dropped me into a small field I can't match up with my charts, and slewing with the hand controller is awkward.  I wish I could just PUSH the scope around quickly to match my charts to the FOV but nope.  Sometimes it drops me right on the variable other times it makes the entire process more difficult than just star hopping.

 

After years of this I finally found myself longing for the simplicity of the original fork. Push it around freely.  Use setting circles to find targets.  Yeah I'll miss the stability of the GEM but I won't miss the headache and setup time (30 minutes). Purchased a replacement fork and a wedge. Will set up a permanent pier in the yard.  Primary interest is AAVSO variable observing so plopping it down on a pre-aligned wedge and getting to work, pushing from variable to variable sounds fantastic and productive. Nothing but the faint buzz of the synchro motors. No 4 star alignment process, noisy slews, bad alignments, batteries, tripod, counterweights, hand controllers, cables, or data entry. Just bolt it down and turn it on.  The large RA setting circle will get me close enough.

 

Just wondered how many of you have gone full circle like this. Feels sort of liberating.

Tom, you have perfectly described my feeble and short-lived attempt to warm up to Go-To. I’m strictly a visual observer and I enjoy the hunt. Give me a traditional GEM, alt-az, or fork mount any day. Drives are great, once on target! Setting circles are useful when star-hopping alone doesn’t work well in a faint part of the sky. I’m even good with strictly push-to encoders and DSCs like TV-Skytour. But I say NO to Go-To. No thank you, never again!


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#11 ShutterAce

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 01:27 PM

Hear, hear!

Or is it See, see!


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#12 brentknight

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 01:29 PM

Tom, you have perfectly described my feeble and short-lived attempt to warm up to Go-To. I’m strictly a visual observer and I enjoy the hunt. Give me a traditional GEM, alt-az, or fork mount any day. Drives are great, once on target! Setting circles are useful when star-hopping alone doesn’t work well in a faint part of the sky. I’m even good with strictly push-to encoders and DSCs like TV-Skytour. But I say NO to Go-To. No thank you, never again!

Plate-solving might be better (I've never tried this), but then your still at the mercy of the drive motors.

 

I dumped the Go2 mount on my Orion Dobsonian because it wasn't working very well anymore.  In addition to the new simplicity of a manual mount, I also reduced the weight of the telescope by over 70lbs and the height at zenith by about 6".  It is so much easier to use now...


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#13 Tenacious

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 01:37 PM

I de-forked my orange C8 (onto an AVX) years ago.  Yeah it was great! More solid, go-to, easier to balance with cameras, heavy eyepieces, great for imaging, etc. No way was I going back to a wedge and a fork!

 

But, fast forward.  I've found it sort of boring.  I don't image anymore, and there is no joy in finding a target.  I hate standing around waiting for it to grind on to the next target.  The eyepiece is all over the place, forcing me to practically sit on the ground sometimes, crane my neck and constantly rotate the diagonal.  Sometimes (like tonight) it just acts up and every go-to is off by half a degree.  Resets, re-alignments, nothing seems to solve it.  You suddenly feel at the mercy of a stupid computer who has it wrong. Tonight every alignment star it picked was below the horizon! ****?  Triple checked location, date, time, year, and DST.  I had to manually pick all alignment stars.  Slewing slowly with the hand controller to get every target into the FOV because gotos are still off after a 4 star alignment really sucks. Forget panning around the sky looking for something, it's painful.  I enter RA and DEC to find my variable and it's a degree off.  It's dropped me into a small field I can't match up with my charts, and slewing with the hand controller is awkward.  I wish I could just PUSH the scope around quickly to match my charts to the FOV but nope.  Sometimes it drops me right on the variable other times it makes the entire process more difficult than just star hopping.

 

After years of this I finally found myself longing for the simplicity of the original fork. Push it around freely.  Use setting circles to find targets.  Yeah I'll miss the stability of the GEM but I won't miss the headache and setup time (30 minutes). Purchased a replacement fork and a wedge. Will set up a permanent pier in the yard.  Primary interest is AAVSO variable observing so plopping it down on a pre-aligned wedge and getting to work, pushing from variable to variable sounds fantastic and productive. Nothing but the faint buzz of the synchro motors. No 4 star alignment process, noisy slews, bad alignments, batteries, tripod, counterweights, hand controllers, cables, or data entry. Just bolt it down and turn it on.  The large RA setting circle will get me close enough.

 

Just wondered how many of you have gone full circle like this. Feels sort of liberating.

Nice thread, Tom.

 

I remember and appreciate your insights about improving settle times of the classic wedge and fork from a few years back.  My C8 is yet another project waiting for completion.



#14 RichA

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 01:44 PM

I just acquired a Super C8 Plus on a wedge.  I'm learning to use it and it's a beautiful telescope for sure.  I hear you all raving about how comfortable these fork/wedge SCT's are, but I'm not feeling that when trying to look at objects to the north.  I find myself with my head between the forks and the poor telescope pointed behind me.  Anything in Cassiopeia comes to mind...

The major attribute is limited eyepiece travel going from one object to the other.  Some mounted larger refractors and Newtonians are almost unusable when pointed low to the horizon (Newtonain) or near vertical (refractor) where you end-up stooping or having to sit.  This is part of what killed off long refractors and Newtonians.


Edited by RichA, 17 January 2021 - 01:47 PM.

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#15 brentknight

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 01:49 PM

The major attribute is limited eyepiece travel going from one object to the other.

I can certainly agree with that...and the smooth worm gear motor drives are very nice for visual - no more jerk-jerk-jerk.

 

Just curious if anyone has tips for using these in the northern direction.  I suppose my issues are worse since the altitude angle at 30° is pretty steep.


Edited by brentknight, 17 January 2021 - 01:49 PM.

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#16 Tom Stock

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 02:00 PM

I just acquired a Super C8 Plus on a wedge.  I'm learning to use it and it's a beautiful telescope for sure.  I hear you all raving about how comfortable these fork/wedge SCT's are, but I'm not feeling that when trying to look at objects to the north.  I find myself with my head between the forks and the poor telescope pointed behind me.  Anything in Cassiopeia comes to mind...

This is true.  Fortunately I can't see the north from my yard. It's blocked by trees!


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#17 Tom Stock

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 02:05 PM

Nice thread, Tom.

 

I remember and appreciate your insights about improving settle times of the classic wedge and fork from a few years back.  My C8 is yet another project waiting for completion.

Wow great memory!



#18 Kasmos

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 02:48 PM

I like the original fork mounts for what they are. Compact to set up and store. 

 

BTW, I always cringe a bit when someone mentions they just aquired a an old orange tube and they are going to defork it. 

 

Keep it simple!


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#19 Bomber Bob

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 02:58 PM

BTW, I always cringe a bit when someone mentions they just acquired a an old orange tube and they are going to de-fork it.

 

OOOoooopppppsssss:

 

C5 Astro Restore S08 (OTA on Polaris).jpg

 

For sweeping, I like the original forks -- AZ or EQ alignment.



#20 Pete W

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 03:54 PM

I can certainly agree with that...and the smooth worm gear motor drives are very nice for visual - no more jerk-jerk-jerk.

 

Just curious if anyone has tips for using these in the northern direction.  I suppose my issues are worse since the altitude angle at 30° is pretty steep.

 

My forked C5 is fun to use....except north of the zenith with it’s itty bitty straight thru finder.   For high-dec targets I use a laser pointer held along the OTA along with my lowest power eyepiece to find a naked eye star in the main scope that’s near my target.  Then right angle star-hopping sweeps in RA and Dec to the target.  No finder required. 


Edited by Pete W, 17 January 2021 - 04:08 PM.

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#21 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 04:22 PM

Well   I have never used go to  and my classics have their original mounts and some can ride on modern mounts   While I have not done goto   ( Maybe I am not missing so much? ) I do like some tracking     sometimes

    I had two C-8's , one  original 1973  on its fork with non original tripod ,  the other 1979 was already deforked   I  sold/traded my original orange C-8 for a 1958 Tasco 10te  and I kept the 79

 

I had purchased  a deforked   C-8 for 150 dollars that came from a university astronomy club . It is highly modified  with three different finders    two lozmandy bars  one on each side  three mirror flop preventing knobs and  heck there are even notes written on the orange tube in pencil  that I am not erasing.  

 

This scope does well on my Heavy Duty Unistar Alt Az  and I love the simplicity and smoothness of that mount

 

For all original fork mounted C-8 with all the trimmings  See John Higbee's  displayed at Neaf 2019

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Edited by Defenderslideguitar, 17 January 2021 - 06:23 PM.

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#22 Rick-T137

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 04:31 PM

I just acquired a Super C8 Plus on a wedge.  I'm learning to use it and it's a beautiful telescope for sure.  I hear you all raving about how comfortable these fork/wedge SCT's are, but I'm not feeling that when trying to look at objects to the north.  I find myself with my head between the forks and the poor telescope pointed behind me.  Anything in Cassiopeia comes to mind...

Hi Brent,

 

I used to have the same problem - felt like I was sticking my head in a lion's mouth to look at anything near Polaris. But I got great advice here on CN - simply shimmy the scope sideways. Since the objects in question are near the NCP, they don't move very quickly, so it's much easier to observe them with the tracking motor off. I have used this "trick" a number of times and have been very happy. I just use both my RA and Dec slow motion controls and it's not too much hassle. Mind you, I only do a rough polar alignment when I set up anyway so shimmying the scope sideways and putting it back after is super easy. Barely an inconvenience!

 

Clear skies,

 

Rick


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#23 davidmcgo

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 05:35 PM

I will say the cantilever design of the C10 pier does make it a bit easier getting to higher declinations but with the C10’s 67 pounds hanging off it, vibration suppression pads are a must.

 

Here it is with my C8

 

Dave

 

 

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#24 telesonic

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Posted 17 January 2021 - 05:38 PM

Tom,

My C-8 is a Celestar - known for not having the sturdiest of forks, compared to the older models and Ultima. I de-forked it from it's original  - and put it onto a Powerstar fork that I'd purchased on here. That was a huge upgrade, with a very nice Byers gearset - it tracked amazingly. Used it that way for a few years, and got comfortable with it.

 

Then, along came the Vixen SP GEM - so I de-forked it and ran it on that for awhile. I still use the Celestar OTA, but now it's on a CG-5 ASGT go-to mount on my pier. It works well, I like using the ASGT with my tablet running Sky Safari.... but, sometimes I do miss the simplicity of the wedge/fork combo. I kept the old Powerstar fork and wedge, and even found some NOS encoders for it - in case I want to go back to being a forker with DSC's.

 

I can certainly see why some return to the ways of the fork. When I designed my semi-permanent pier - I made sure that I could use it with the C-8 wedge, it might be a little tall, but it should work.

 

Rick's advice in post #22 is good..... I'd forgotten about that. 


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#25 ccwemyss

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    Apollo

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  • Posts: 1,454
  • Joined: 11 Aug 2016
  • Loc: Massachusetts

Posted 17 January 2021 - 10:40 PM

My Nexstar 11 had very accurate goto, on a fork mount, and was very comfortable. Then the electronics blew out, so the OTA had to go onto a GEM, which is not nearly as pleasant. The orange C11 at school is very nice to use, and tracks for hours. But the RA slow motion can be a stretch from some positions, and the Dec tangent arm easily runs out of range. Its also a real heavyweight. My old C8, from 1982, was getting into the Halley craze period and had mediocre optics, so I was happy to replace it with a Questar (which is my favorite fork-mounted scope ever). I sometimes wish that my C14 hadn't been de-forked by a previous owner, but it has such a narrow view that I think it is helped by a goto mount, and I expect the controls would be harder to reach than the 11. Maybe an Ultima C9.25 would be the sweet spot.

 

I tried a Losmandy G11 for several years. Beautiful mount, but really frustrating for my use. It would take so long to build a good model that I'd go for months just using it as a tracking mount. And it always seemed that when I would finally spend an evening building a good model, the backup battery would die shortly after. I have two Celestron goto mounts, for use with my classes, where students lack patience to watch me star-hop. Although they are easier, especially with Starsense, it seems that I'm always bumping or unplugging them and having to start over. 

 

Now I have an AP900 for the observatory, and it's the first goto I'm able to enjoy. No model building. Once it's accurately polar aligned, it's like having setting circles with motors doing the push-to. If I want to use it manually, I can. Then just sync it on a star and it's back to doing goto. If I pull out the power plug, just turn it back on and keep going.

 

I also love the simplicity, solidness, and smoothness of the Pentax and Unitron GEM mounts. Quick to get good enough polar alignment so the RA knobs can be used for manual tracking. No electronics, no batteries, no worries about obsolescence. 

 

Chip W. 




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